Facebook said on Monday it has suspended a network of Instagram accounts operated from Russia that targeted Americans with divisive political messages ahead of next year’s U.S. presidential election, with operators posing as people within the United States.
Facebook said it also had suspended three separate networks operated from Iran. The Russian network “showed some links” to Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA), Facebook said, an organization Washington has said was used by Moscow to meddle in the 2016 U.S. election.
“We see this operation targeting largely U.S. public debate and engaging in the sort of political issues that are challenging and sometimes divisive in the U.S. right now,” said Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy.
Facebook also announced new steps to fight foreign interference and misinformation ahead of the November 2020 election, including labelling state-controlled media outlets and adding greater protections for elected officials and candidates who may be vulnerable targets for hacking.
U.S. security officials have warned that Russia, Iran and other countries could attempt to sway the result of next year’s presidential vote. Officials say they are on high alert for signs of foreign influence campaigns on social media.
Moscow and Tehran have repeatedly denied the allegations.